No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

In Another Move To Charters, Florida Would Give Parents More Say Over Failing Schools

| January 24, 2012

Parents taking matters in their own hands.

Parents of children in chronically failing schools would get greater power to force the schools to change, including the possibility they could make the school into a charter school or contract its management out, under a bill that advanced Tuesday in the House.

Under current law, Florida public schools labeled as “chronically failing” by the state and federal government face several choices for how they can try to improve, under a system put in place to meet the federal “No Child Left Behind.” But currently, it’s the school district that drives the decision on how the school should be dealt with. It submits a plan–though the law sets out several choices for things that can be done–to state education officials.

Under a bill moving in both chambers of the Legislature, if improvement doesn’t happen within a year, parents could dictate what will happen, if 51 percent of them agree, though they still would be limited to certain options laid out in federal law, and the plan would be subject to Department of Education approval.

The parents could force the school district to transfer students to other schools; close the school and re-open it as a charter school with a new governing board running it; or contract with an outside management group to run it, for example.

“Anywhere in our communities where schools are struggling, parents have continued to come forward and say they want to have a role in the revitalization of a school and in making the education in their community better for all students, not just their own,” said Senate bill sponsor Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers.

The idea for a parent trigger bill for changing school management emerged in Florida last year when it was pushed by Michelle Rhee, former Washington D.C. schools chancellor who was an informal advisor to new Gov. Rick Scott.

This year it appeared in a version of the governor’s legislative agenda.

The idea for the parent trigger comes from California, where two years ago that state’s legislature passed a similar bill giving parents in a failing school a majority vote on whether to turn it into a charter school.

One of the early backers of the bill was Shirley Ford.

“Fifty-one percent is a high bar. So if you have 51 percent of anyone doing anything in any community, especially in a community where schools are failing, that’s speaking to the power, that’s speaking to the fact that parents are sick and tired of the failure, and we need to make a change,” said Ford, who is a senior advisor with Parent Revolution-the group that created and backed the original parent-trigger bill, which is now starting to pop up in a number of states.

But critics say the measures pit parents against parents, and parents against school districts.

In California, “It wasn’t a formula for school improvement at all, it was more a formula for shutting the school down and turning it over to private communities,” said Rita Solnet, a former Parent-Teacher Association president, who is also a founder of the group Parents Across America, which opposes such laws. “When I say it was a catastrophic failure, it just created enormous hostility and conflict within communities.”

Solnet says the Florida version of the parent trigger law is better than the California model, but her group is still opposed to it.

Another opponent of the bill is the Florida Parent-Teacher Association. Jean Hovey, the association’s president, calls the measures a thinly-veiled attempt to privatize schools. She also says the bill doesn’t address why schools fail, and why some parents choose to sit out of the education process.

“There are lots of ways to get parents involved, you need to find out why they aren’t coming to the school, maybe it’s a language or a cultural barrier,” said Hovey. “There are avenues to work with the school district. And one of them is not, as this bill says, to ‘pull the trigger’ and turn the school over to a charter school.”

Only a few Florida school districts have elected to turn their failing schools into charters under the current system, where the district gets the say. Most have chosen to switch out school administrators and provide the school with extra money.

Supporters of the bill, which is backed by the Foundation for Florida’s Future, former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education lobbying group, say the goal is to get parents involved, not spark dissent. They note that in other states with parent-trigger laws, like Texas and Mississippi, there was bi-partisan support. And in a press conference Tuesday about the bill, former State Sen. Al Lawson, a Democrat, backed the bill as well.

“I am convinced that with this bill, that we are going to solve a major problem,” said Lawson. “And that is that you are going to give parents the responsibility to be more involved in their kids’ education and to empower them to help move a school in a direction that they need to go.”

The proposals, Senate Bill 1718 and House Bill 1191 also call for children assigned to teachers with poor evaluations to receive a high performing teacher the next school year. And it informs parents that they have the right to request a copy of their child’s teacher evaluation, and gives a virtual school option to students with ineffective or out of field teachers. It also calls on districts not to assign poor teachers to already failing schools.

The bills cleared their first committee stops in the House and Senate Tuesday. The House bill was approved 11-3 in the House K-20 Innovation Subcommittee, and now goes to Rulemaking and Regulation.

The Senate version was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Education Committee and goes to the Budget Committee next.

–News Service of Florida

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 Responses for “In Another Move To Charters, Florida Would Give Parents More Say Over Failing Schools”

  1. Out of curiosity says:

    Moving towards privatizing public schools in Florida…

  2. Doug Chozianin says:

    If a school is failing you:
    – replace the management (principals);
    – institute educational policies that promote education (not political correctness);
    – fire all the incompetent, uninspiring and unimaginative teachers and hire good ones;
    – let the students know that they are expected to learn and behave to prepare themselves for a productive adult life (prison, unemployment, food stamps and menial jobs are not good goals) ; and
    – berate (I chose the word carefully) those students who are not performing to high standards (self- esteem needs to be redefined as “well behaved and educated”).

    As far as pitting parents who want their kids educated against parents who don’t give a damn (including teacher unions who want nothing but the status quo and higher pay and pensions for non performance), I’m for empowering the parents who want their kids educated.

    Wake up America, we need to change course this November.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    Also moving to privatizing the prison System in Florida, to only benefit lobbying corporations only!
    The Senate’s Campaign to Privatize Our Prisons Continues In Wednesday’s Budget Committee
    The Florida Legislature is back at its’ old games of putting you and your family’s safety at risk. The prison privatization bill (SB 2038), is being rushed through by Governor Rick Scott and the Legislative leadership in an attempt to silence Floridians’ right to participate in Democracy. Last week this bill was rushed through a 45 minute meeting only to be rushed through the Senate Rules Committee yesterday and now SB 2038 will be heard in the Senate Budget Committee tomorrow (Wednesday)!
    This bill will:
    Eliminate thousands of jobs!
    Risk public safety by turning over prison security to the lowest bidder!
    Eliminate accountability for prison administration!
    The big out-of-state special interests who are pushing for the passing of SB 2038 gave huge campaign contributions to politicians and their allies in Tallahassee. This is a clear attempt by the Legislature to return the favor by putting your family’s safety at risk so private contractors can make huge profits off of your tax dollars.
    Tell the members in the Senate Budget Committee “NOT to be a rubber stamp for Governor Scott. Tell them to protect your community and all Floridians, NOT line the pockets of contractors and political donors. Tell them that privatization doesn’t solve the problems facing Florida’s working families.”
    Senate Budget Committee Members
    JD Alexander SD 17 (850) 487-5044 Joe Negron SD 28 (850) 487-5088
    Thad Altman SD 24 (850) 487-5053 Lizbeth Benacquisto SD 27 (850) 487-5356
    Ellyn Bogdanoff SD 25 (850) 487 5100 Mike Fasano SD 11 (850) 487-5062
    Anitere Flores SD 38 (850) 487-5130 Don Gaetz SD 4 (850) 487 5009
    Alan Hays SD 20 (850) 487-5014 Arthenia Joyner SD 18 (850) 487-5059
    Gwen Margolis SD 35 (850) 487-5121 Bill Montford SD 6 (850) 487-5004
    Nan Rich SD 34 (850) 487-5103 Garrett Richter SD 37 (850) 487-5124
    David Simmons SD 22 (850) 487-5050 Gary Siplin SD 19 (850) 487-5190
    Eleanor Sobel SD 31 (850) 487-5097 John Thrasher SD 8 (850) 487-5030
    Stephen Wise SD 5 (850) 487-5027

    • Nancy N says:

      Rick Scott is nothing more than a puppet for all his big business buddies to use to carve up as much of the government’s functions as possible for their own profit.

      Justice cannot be justice when there is profit in locking people up.

    • Doug Chozianin says:

      Dear PalmCoaster:

      How come you never complained when Obama, Reid and Pelosi pushed through a flawed healthcare bill or screwed retiree GM bondholders out of their money or lost billions of taxpayer monies on GM, Soyindra and the phony Stimulus Package???

      Also, Obama’s buddy Warren Buffett (he owes the IRS (US TAXPAYERS) one billion dollars) will make zillions of dollars with his transportation companies if the US/Canada Pipeline is cancelled. Wait a minute… Obama just cancelled the pipeline. Who do you suggest I call to complain???

      Doug Chozianin
      (I use my real name)

  4. John Boy says:

    What bunch of hypocrites, 51% to close schools yet the Senate filibusters all the time even when the majority is in agreement.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    This is what happens when some private billionaire hands and private grants exercise control in our education, we get brainwashed and become their special interest zombies.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Gov. Rick Scott and some Legislators in Tallahassee are pushing privatization bills that are literally dangerous: They would compromise our safety, cost Florida thousands of jobs and hand over billions in tax dollars to political donors.
    These bills, SB 2036 and SB 2038, aim to privatize many governmental services and agencies—even prisons—without giving the public a voice in the processPut your family’s safety on the line. These bills remove any accountability for private prison companies or other public safety contractors. This means more prison escapes, hiring unqualified “security officers” and stretching our local law enforcement too thin.
    Cost Florida thousands of jobs. The first thing Scott’s privatization scheme will do is cause thousands of experienced officers to be laid off. These officers and their families will lose their incomes, costing Florida small businesses millions in lost revenue.
    Hand over billions in tax dollars to political donors. The same private contractors who want to take over our prisons have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Tallahassee politicians like Gov. Scott. Now these same politicians are pushing bills that will hand over your tax dollars to their biggest campaign donors.
    Hurt small businesses across Florida. These bills are an economic nightmare for small cities and towns throughout Florida. Privatizing a governmental agency hurts the entire community. If local workers are displaced from their jobs it affects small business. When the work that was being done is privatized and the workers on the job make less, it hurts small business

  7. palmcoaster says:

    @Doug C. How come you didn’t complain when Bush started these useless costly wars based in bogus WMD, started the largest bail out of 180 billions given to AIG under his watch. The health care bill passed by Obama was needed as over 40 million Americans had no preventive or medical care at all. Now at least half of them have it. The bail out to GM and Chrysler was necessary to save jobs and was the most justified of them all, as our monies lent, are being refunded and with interest. I agree in one thing with you, that the bond holders and investors of GM and all the regional banks taken over (we) lost our shares and funds. That is unacceptable when the same companies like GM are allowed to come up with a new IPO (Initial Public Offering of new shares) and these regional banks were sold to other banks. All our investors shares should have kept its value even if we should have waited couple or few years, until these corporations recover enough, to honor again possession and sale or trade again of our shares. We should have all be kept in their books. That is is the crony vulture capitalism that we all in main street are exposed to with either party.One worst than the other, on the eye of the beholder. Then Mr. Bernanke ask banks to attract more capital…oh yeah so then, Fed takes over the bank and leaves us holding the empty bag! Dear Dough I am an investor also and I been hit as well, but I firmly believe that if we do not unite to protect and improve the economic status of our middle class and our poor and provide those over 40 million with preventive medical care, we will not dig ourselves ever from this hole! C’mon, is not the 1% that sustains America prosperous, but the huge masses of middle class and lower classes making decent wages and paying taxes and buying goods. We are broke because there are no sufficient sales, because people is unemployed and homeless and can’t afford to buy! How come so many refuse to see this picture? I see for your comments that you are an intelligent individual and I will refuse to believe, that you do not see this picture. Intelligence and a bit of compassion is what makes the greatness of our country and will lead us to recovery.
    If the Oracle of Omaha owes us a billion, he better pay us right now. Any documentation about it? I don’t think that transportation will make the Keystone “dirty heaviest sands oil” transport, sufficiently profitable to even consider Buffet’s transports enterprises…

    • J. Rockwood says:

      Well done palmcoaster! Doug, unfortunately, you are blinded by the light.
      Besides, the bottom line is that the only good GOP candidate is Ron Paul.
      Because he will not be nominated, Obama will easily defeat Romney or Gingrich.
      Oh, by the way. Rick Scott will be a one term governor.
      The MAJORITY of Floridians can’t wait until he is gone!

  8. palmcoaster says:

    More about AIG largest of them all bailout.
    GM and Chrysler bailouts to save jobs pale, against the bail out to AIG and banks.

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive


support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida

Subscribe to FlaglerLive

Get immediate notification of new stories.

Log in
| FlaglerLive, P.O. Box 354263, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4263 | 386/586-0257